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The 2022 Nursing in the Media Awards

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, 2022 Truth About Nursing awards Call the Midwife NYT Full Frontal The Truth About Nursing announces our list of the best and worst media portrayals of nursing for 2022! We regret that transitions this past year again delayed these awards. The year 2022 featured generally strong portrayals of nursing skill and autonomy from veteran television dramas Call the Midwife (BBC/PBS) (our 1st place winner) and Virgin River (Netflix), as well as the Disney+ animated series Baymax! (yes, the "robot nurse"). The year also included some great media advocacy from Pope Francis, who continued his efforts to honor nurses who have saved his life, and Samantha Bee, who devoted one of Full Frontal's last segments to the nurse staffing crisis (our 3rd place winner). Some of the best news and social media items involved nurses speaking out about ongoing challenges to nursing as the Covid crisis receded. Among the nursing leaders creating powerful media were Marion Leary, Tyler Kuhk, Christina NP, Theresa Brown, Robin Cogan, Sarah Warren, and Julie McFadden. In terms of journalism, the New York Times, had an intense "opinion video" that offered nurses a chance to describe the negative effects of understaffing and to advocate for minimum staffing ratios (our 2nd place winner). Sarah DiGregorio had a very strong op-ed in The Washington Post about understaffing and travel nursing during Covid. And the BBC had a powerful documentary about the Health Wagon, the nurse-led rural Virginia community health initiative. Nurse radio hosts Diana Mason, Diane Reed, and Maureen McGrath continue to bring the nurse's voice to the airwaves. On the downside, portrayals of nurses as the low-skilled servants of brilliant physicians continued to dominate the U.S. television landscape. That was the case in shows like Grey's Anatomy (ABC) and Good Sam (CBS). The physician-centric New Amsterdam (NBC) included a couple plotlines that tried to portray challenges to nursing, but ended up presenting nurses as helpless victims who had to be rescued by maverick physicians. And an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) offered a short tribute to nurses—as unskilled female angels, not serious health professionals. Finally, drug company Johnson & Johnson continued its long-running campaign to identify itself with nursing, with probably the best and worst television advertisements of the year about the profession. Better understanding of nursing is possible—if we work together to educate others about the real value of the profession!

The Best

Television series

Films

Reporting

Print

Radio

TV/Video

Best Advertisement About Nurses

Celebrity Advocacy for Nurses

Dolls

Media Created by Nurses Themselves

All Around Nursing Advocates

Nurses on Social Media

Radio Shows

The Worst

Television

Reporting

Advertisement

Bar-Related Media

Special Awards

Kind of Good Awards

Really Not Good Awards

  • Best Media Portrayals of Nursing 2022
  •  

    Best Television Series

  • Call the Midwife

    Created by Heidi Thomas, from a memoir by Jennifer Worth; BBC and PBS

    This veteran show, airing its 12th season, continued to portray skilled, autonomous nurse-midwives delivering babies and providing other effective care to poor patients in 1960s London.

  • Lucille, Call the Midwife
  • Virgin River

    Created by Sue Tenney; Netflix

    This romance-intensive series, airing its fourth season, featured nurse practitioner Mel Monroe, who periodically provided expert and sensitive care to those in her small California town.

  • Virgin River
  • Baymax!

    Created by Don Hall; Disney+

    The first season of this amusing limited series showed young viewers an expert and holistic (if a bit invasive) robot nurse character making a real difference in the health of his community. See our review of the 2014 movie.

  • Baymax

    Honorable Mention

  • Chicago Med

    Created by Dick Wolf and Matt Olmstead; NBC

    This drama, though physician-centric, continued to show nurses playing important roles in emergency care, with one major character an ED charge nurse and another a wise hospital executive. A third nurse character who had departed returned for a few episodes and showed her new nurse practitioner knowledge, though she was mostly there to renew her romance with a physician.

  • Chicago Med
  • "All We Have Is Now," episode of The Resident, season 5 episode 19, April 19; written by Joy Blake; Fox

    This hospital show's two minor nurse characters usually displayed limited skills and clear subordination to its many physicians, who provided all meaningful care, even in an episode (season 5 episode 14) that tried to show the value of nursing with a plotline about Covid-era travel nursing. But season 5 episode 19 offered an amazingly authoritative portrayal of a hospice nurse caring for the dying mother of the show's most arrogant surgeon character. This nurse calmly displayed expertise and advanced psychosocial skills, guiding the patient and her son through the difficult process, earning the surgeon's respect—and even some humility from him.

  • Nurse on The Resident
  • "Idle Nigerians," episode of Bob Hearts Abishola, season 4 episode 9, December 5; written by Chuck Lorre, Gina Yashere, Matt Ross, Carla Filisha, Marla Dumont, Jamarcus Turner; CBS

    Sadly, this sitcom's competent main nurse character still seems to be headed for medical school, reinforcing the wannabe-physician stereotype. But this episode included a nurses' strike caused at least in part by understaffing, with regular senior nurse character Gloria leading the strike and advocating forcefully on the picket line.

  • Bob Hearts Abishola

     

    Best Movies 2022

  • The Good Nurse

    Directed by Tobias Lindholm; screenplay by Krysty Wilson-Cairns; based on the book by Charles Graeber

    This Netflix film focused on a strong, skilled, real-life ICU nurse who finds herself working closely with a serial killer in the dystopia of modern U.S. hospital care.

  • The Good Nurse
  • The Wonder

    Directed by Sebastian Lelio; written by Emma Donoghue, Sebastian Lelio, and Alice Burch; based on the book by Emma Donoghue

    This Netflix film focused on a strong, skilled, 19th century English "Nightingale nurse" who must unravel the mystery of a young Irish patient who has apparently not eaten for months. See our review of the book.

  • The Wonder

    Best Reporting on Nursing 2022

    Best News Articles 2022

  • Lauren Hilgers

    "Nurses Have Finally Learned What They're Worth," The New York Times, February 15. This massive feature in the Times Magazine’s "Future of Work" issue surveys the desperate state of U.S. nursing, with a focus on the explosion of travel nursing during Covid.

  • Laura Hilgers' article
  • Sarah DiGregorio

    "Hospitals desperately need staff. But capping travel nurses’ pay won’t help," The Washington Post, March 14. The journalist's powerful opinion piece argues that limiting the cost of travel nurses will not solve our deeper problem: that society continues to undervalue nursing.

  • Sarah DiGregorio

    Best Radio 2022

  • "The Documentary: The health wagon," BBC World Service,

    produced by Victoria Ferran, Just Radio, November 19. A powerful radio documentary that profiled the Health Wagon, a nurse-led community health initiative that has been serving rural southwest Virginia since 1980.

  • BBC radio

    Best TV/Video News Coverage 2022

  • Lucy King and Jonah M. Kessel

    "We Know the Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals. It’s Greed," The New York Times, January 19. A strong Times "opinion video" that offered nurses a chance to describe the negative effects of understaffing and to advocate for the minimum staffing ratios that could help.

  • New York Times
  • Kristen Bartlett and Mike Drucker, executive producers,

    "If Nurses Are F*cked, We’re F*cked," Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, TBS, May 26. This segment of the political-comedy show focused on the poor working conditions that plague U.S. nursing and advocated strongly for minimum staffing ratios. Bee concluded by urging viewers to support federal legislation that would mandate those ratios. Click here to join that effort.

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

    Best Advertisement About Nursing 2022

  • Johnson & Johnson

    "Where Would the World Be Without Nurses?"

    This 30-second television ad airing on prime time U.S. television in November and December saluted nurses for their life-saving, advocacy, innovation, and even community health work. The images accompanying these statements conveyed to attentive viewers at least a fleeting sense of the nature of that work, for example by showing nurses using advanced technology.

  • Johnson and Johnson good ad

    Best Celebrity Advocacy for Nurses 2022

  • Pope Francis

    For continued efforts to honor nurses who have saved his life, most recently Vatican nurse Massimiliano Strappetti, who had identified a serious intestinal problem in 2021, as reported by the Associated Press and others, August 4.

  •  Pope Francis and Massimiliano Strappetti

    Best Dolls for Nursing 2022

  • Nola the Nurse

    Created by nurse Sharmaine Lawson

  • Nola the Nurse doll
  • Barbie Doll Career Nurse Standard

    Created by Mattel

  • Barbie Doll Career Nurse Standard

    The Truth About Nursing receives no commission or other payment in connection with sales of linked products.

    Best Media Created by Nurses Themselves 2022

    Best All Around Nursing Advocates 2022

  • Marion Leary

    This University of Pennsylvania nursing professor does it all, in wide-ranging efforts to support nurses and share their expertise with the public - through her Amplify Nursing podcast, the Nursing Story Slam, Penn Nursing’s Innovation Ecosystem, social media, nursing media, and traditional mainstream media, including opinion pieces in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

  • Marion Leary
  • Theresa Brown

    For various media advocacy for nurses, including "Why I’m Leaving the American Nurses Association", a June 15 piece in her Healing Newsletter which urged the ANA to advocate more strongly for nurses, and a short opinion piece within "How to fix American health care, according to 6 experts", CNN, October 20.

  • Theresa Brown

    Best Nurses on Social Media 2022

  • Robin Cogan

    The Relentless School Nurse has a weekly blog, a monthly column in My American Nurse, and a very active social media presence

  • Robin Cogan
  • Tyler Kuhk

    This nurse practitioner campaigns persistently for better health care, less ignorance, and less hate; he has worked hard to counter anti-vax forces within nursing despite intense hostility and resistance.

  • Tyler Kuhk
  • Christina NP

    An authoritative nurse practitioner who uses her popular TikTok account ChristinaaaaaaaNP to dispel Covid-19 myths in a fiercely comic style.

  • Christina NP
  • Julie McFadden

    For her influential TikTok account HospiceNurseJulie, where she sensitively educates the public about end-of-life care and death.

  • Julie McFadden
  • Sarah Warren

    For her influential Instagram accounts shesinscrubs and Don't Clock Out, where she works to help struggling nurses through community peer support and provides mental health resources for healthcare workers; and for selfcareunitpod, a podcast that helps nurses with their mental health.

  • Sarah Warren

     

    Best Radio Shows for Nursing 2022

    By speaking about health care in a compelling and authoritative way, the nurses who host these programs show society that nurses are college-educated science professionals who deserve respect.

  • Diana Mason Healthcetera, WIOX (Catskills, NY)

  • Diana Mason
  • Diane Reed Nurses Rock! (Orlando, Florida) (Dr. Reed is a member of The Truth About Nursing's advisory panel)

  • Diane Reed
  • Maureen McGrath Sunday Night Health Show (formerly the Sunday Night Sex Show), CKNW (Vancouver, Canada)

  • Maureen McGrath

     

  • Worst Portrayals of Nursing in the Media 2022
  • Television Series—Worst Portrayals of Nursing 2022

  • Grey's Anatomy

    Created by Shonda Rhimes; ABC

    The veteran drama continued to largely ignore nurses and portray surgeons as providing all the hospital care that matters, with the occasional plotline showing active disrespect, especially by presenting a nurse as some momentary obstacle to a beleaguered surgeon's progress.

  • Nurse Bokhee
  • Good Sam

    Created by Katie Wech; CBS

    This hospital drama had heroic surgeons doing everything, with nurses seen as peripheral and inconsequential; one recurring nurse character occasionally displayed limited knowledge, but she served mainly to comment on the antics of the physicians.

  • Good Sam

     

    Reporting—Worst Portrayals of Nursing 2022

  • Ignoring nursing; Countless news media sources; All year

    For the many news articles that continue to discuss areas of health care in which nurses actually play important roles and could make contributions to the piece, but instead consult only physicians, and phrase their discussions in terms of what "doctors" see, say, think, or do, consistent with the findings of the Woodhull Study Revisited.

  • The media

     

    Advertisement—Worst Portrayal of Nursing 2022

  • Johnson & Johnson

    "Nurses Rise to the Challenge Every Day"

    This 30-second television ad, airing during Nurses Week in May, offered a tribute that, despite some helpful elements, focused on nurses’ "grit" and willingness to give well over 100% - with no suggestion that maybe we should do something to improve those working conditions; the ad ended by claiming that the drug company has been "championing" nurses since 1897 and "like you, we’ll never stop."

  • Johnson & Johnson ad

     

    Bar—Worst Portrayal of Nursing 2022

  • City Steam Brewery, Hartford, Connecticut

    This bar continues to promote and sell not one but two "Naughty Nurse" ales, an amber which is their "flagship ale," as well as an IPA. Complete with brain-dead, suggestive "nurse" imagery.

  • City Steam Brewery naughty nurse beer logo
  • Special Awards 2022
  • Kind of Good Awards 2022
  • Not the Worst This Year Award

  • The Good Doctor

    Created by David Shore; ABC

    This show, which we have placed in the "worst" category since it appeared six years ago, still generally portrays physicians as the only ones who matter in the hospital setting, ignoring what nurses really do—when it is not showing physicians doing it—and at times presenting nurses as clueless ninnies who rely on physicians for all thinking and courage. However, starting in the middle of the fifth season, there have been occasional plotlines in which nurse Jerome Martel, who is mainly the physician Asher’s boyfriend, and nurse Dalisay Villanueva, who at first mainly received attention as the target of domestic violence, show some real clinical knowledge and skill.

  • Nurse Jerome Martel and Nurse Dalisay Villanueva

    Most Amusing Account of a Poor Portrayal of Nursing Award

  • Tara Ward

    "Ten things Shortland Street has taught us about nursing," The Spinoff, August 4. This New Zealand publication, having reported on government plans to partner with the long-running soap opera Shortland Street to promote the image of nursing, ran this piece highlighting the seeming absurdity of using the show to promote the profession. The ten things included: "Your mum will also get a job at the hospital and then steal your boyfriend," and "You’ll pretend to be a patient to get pregnant with someone else’s triplets."

  • Shortland Street
  • Really Not Good Awards 2022
  • Physicians Fix Nursing Problems Award

  • New Amsterdam

    Created by David Schulner; NBC

    In the final seasons of this hospital show, assistive minor nurse characters did occasionally show knowledge and skill, but the focus remained on the expert, life-saving physicians, who clearly supervised the nurses. In a couple episodes, the show tried to highlight real issues in nursing—with segments that portrayed nurses as helpless victims who had to be rescued by maverick physicians. One episode (season 4 episode 19) had the show’s lead physician managing the shortage of hospital nurses with "student nurses and volunteers"; for school nursing, parents could be trained as nursing assistants. In another episode (season 5 episode 5), a nurse was ready to let a patient die because she was too scared to override the medication dispenser, in the wake of fellow nurse’s criminal prosecution, in a plotline based on the Radonda Vaught situation; a surgeon saved that patient, and the lead physician persuaded the other nurses to stay on the job.

  • Nurses Casey and Gladys on New Amsterdam

    Just Trying to Help Award

  • "How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?", episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, season 4 episode 8, March 11; written by Amy Sherman-Palladino; Amazon Prime Video

    The show’s season finale offered a short tribute to nurses as unskilled female angels, but not as serious health professionals; apparently, unlike physicians, they don’t even get to use pens.

  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

  • See our awards for previous years since 2003

  • Truth About Nursing Blog logo



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